DOUGLAS-FIR

Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii

Pinaceae

Douglas-fir is one of the largest and most widely distributed trees in the West, and the most economically important lumber tree in North America. It is second in height only to coast redwood. Douglas-fir grows throughout the coast ranges and the Sierra into British Columbia ranging from sea level to 9,500 feet. While the trees growing in the Pacific Northwest attain huge height and girth (to over 300 feet and twelve feet diameter at breast height, DBH), the Douglas-fir in central California are not nearly as large.

 

The Rocky Mountain variety (Pseudotsuga menziesii var glauca), grows abundantly in western United States and into Canada.

It has been a convention that common names are hyphenated if the species, say Douglas fir, is not actually a true fir, hence Douglas-fir. This convention seems to be inconsistently applied.

For more detailed information about old-growth groves, logging history, and quirky tidbits about this species, see Douglas Fir, Then and Now, archived in the Seattle Times.

These Douglas-fir are characteristic of those found at Point Reyes National Seashore. A common associate, California bay (Umbellularia californica), is on the right.

Needles are soft, about one inch long, and grow spirally around the stem. Foliage often appears to droop. Seed cones are two to four inches long, and have three-pointed bracts protruding from the rounded scales.

Bark is dark gray to brownish, and deeply furrowed in old trees.

The wood of Douglas-fir is hard and strong. This heavy-duty worktable was quite a challenge for someone used to working with much softer pine and fir.

Abundant pollen cones on April first

These Douglas-fir at Point Reyes National Seashore were casualties of the Limantour fire in 1996. 

All photos, except as credited to others, are copyright Emerald Canary.